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#curiositywalk

It might be my personal trifecta, #curiositywalk. Walking + Curiosity + Mindfulness. Simple, elegant. Highly effective.

I’m a shameless promoter, a pusher of what I believe is a restorative addiction. Psst. Over here. Look what I’ve got. Want some?

There’s a short version, suitable for Tweets [112 characters with spaces; so economical]:

Great day for a #curiositywalk.
Go outdoors.
First: Stop. Look. Listen.
Then: Walk. Look. Listen.
What do you notice?

The longer version isn’t much more complicated: The whole point is to get outside and pay attention. With getting out and about – outdoors, and out of our own heads – and looking around with intention and interest, the world opens up. So much to see and learn and wonder about…

What’s going on around me? What’s the weather? How does it feel on my skin? Which way is the wind blowing? Does it always come from that direction? Where has it been? Can I feel it in my hair? In my ears? What does it smell like?

What am I hearing? Which sounds are natural, which man-made? Can I see their sources? Which sound is traveling the furthest? How far has it come? Which sound is lowest? Highest? Sweetest? What stories do all those sounds tell?

Where are all the red things? The blue? Is yellow well represented? Where? Why?

Who do I see around me? Where are they going? Do they look happy? Sad? Contemplative? Lost? Do I recognize any of them? If we were to talk, what would I like to  learn from them?

What else is around me? Why is that there? What purpose does it serve? Has it been there long? What’s new? Where does that lead? Where else might I like to go?

Look up.

Look left. Look right.

Stop looking at your shoes. Start looking to the horizon.

Turn around and look at where you’ve been. Look from a different perspective; with fresh eyes.

Walk. Look. Listen. What do you notice?

(Are all those links too distracting? I added them, then wondered. Think of them as  curiosity opportunities – “an invitation to revisit,” as Howard Gardner would put it, to dig into something old or seemingly familiar in a new way. A beckoning gesture, an opening, a chance to wander down alleyways and into new territory.)

Walk on!

Painted in Waterlogue

 

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Back Story

Why The Caged Bird Sings

caged birdMy copy of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is old and yellowed. It’s the one with the minimalist graphic cover: pink rings emanating out as if a peddle had been dropped on the white page and its reverberations are marked in shades of fuchsia. Inside suggests I bought it some time after 1980, but I don’t recall.

What I do recall is that I loved it and have always thought of it as the first really “grown up” book I ever read. Not just a classic: grown up.

This is interesting since it was all I recalled.

When my son read Caged Bird in high school, we talked about this fact — that it was the first “grown up” book I had ever read. I neglected to mention I didn’t actually remember anything about it. We agreed it was wonderful.

I don’t know what prompted me to pick it off of the shelves this week. But I found myself drawn to it, wondering, I guess, what had moved me so. I had just re-read The Phantom Tollbooth; I suppose I was in the mood to revisit.

And I was reminded why I must have loved it then, whenever that was.  I was happy, relieved to know that I love it still, perhaps for new and different reasons. Near the end, as she so deftly does, Angelou gave the moment voice:

Without willing it, I had gone from being ignorant of being ignorant to being aware of being aware. And the worst part of my awareness what that I didn’t know what I was aware of.

Ain’t that the truth.

Back Story

A Sound Harvest

A. and I spent the better part of a day this week recording snips and bits that will eventually find their way into episodes of Choose to be Curious.  I felt like a gentler version of The Phantom Tollbooth‘s awful Dynne, gathering up random sounds from across the county. My sack bulges with our quarry.

~~~

We stood under the canopy, hushed, listening. Around us, countless birds flitted and chirped, mocking our attempts to capture their songs. We’d allow ourselves a cautious chatter and so would they, causing us to quiet, as then did they.

An avian game of cat and mouse.

~~~Echo

The chairs, I learned, aren’t actually part of the installation, but they keep appearing. Small children haul the heavy wrought iron furniture over so they can scramble up and call into the stony parabolas.

Eventually, the plaza will be enlarged, the monoliths moved further apart. For now they sit, like enormous books on end, facing one another in the modest square, sharing the secrets whispered into them.

~~~

The woman coming down the ramp eyed us with suspicion: two unidentified adults, loitering at the edge of school property, similarly unidentifiable equipment in hand.

“Is this the bell tower that chimes each hour?” I asked, with a smile.

“Yes. Yes, it is,” she replied, relieved. “It’s lovely, actually,” as she moved on.

 

Choose to be Curious, Life Lessons

And Now There are Two

My second episode of “Choose to be Curious” aired yesterday. I’m feeling grateful for its lessons, mostly-learned:

  • The pre-recorded interview was fun and I lost track of time — which meant I had significant editorial challenges to cut it down to broadcast size. I like most of my decisions; might reconsider a few; regret none.
  • I tried to do all that editing on my own — which meant it took forever…and I learned a lot about what not to do. Nothing like doing a task yourself to realize how much skill these things take.
  • I had a vision for how I wanted the front section to work but had to say “uncle” when the editing overwhelmed me — which meant I had to get comfortable with Plan B.

Mostly, I realized that in today’s overheated public discourse, in which media are both polarized and polarizing, I found it incredibly refreshing to spend time in conversation with someone who brings genuine curiosity to journalism.

Listen in!

Life Lessons, Uncategorized

If a Tree Doesn’t Fall in the Woods…

BW treeBlogging is an inherently optimistic business. You toil, alone, cogitating and crafting, sending your efforts into a vast and unknown cyberspace for whatever future awaits. The whole undertaking is like the digital equivalent of trees falling in the woods. I subscribe to their audibility because what’s the alternative?

But what if the tree doesn’t fall? What if you’ve been putting “trees” out there for months and then one day you just don’t…and no one notices?

This was the philosophic vortex into which I tried not to be drawn recently as I skipped first one, and then a second, posting deadlines. The accountability is all self-imposed, of course, but across 16 months, in 130 installments, I’ve honored a promise I made to myself to write and post twice a week, every week.

And then, this week, I didn’t.

My energy is in motion, dynamic. Flux. In the morning’s wee hours, I find myself mentally drafting scripts instead of blogs. My psychic space is taken up with the stories I want to explore about curiosity and sound, with new vocabulary and technology and the incessant allure of social media.

I fretted a bit about abandoning the blog. I did. And then I didn’t. I back-dated a post, added this as a second, and called myself even. I am remembering to hold myself gently as I find my way forward, trees or not, falling or not, audible or not.

 

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InPower Women Interview: Leading with Curiosity

I had a great discussion this week with Dana Theus of InPower Coaching on leading with curiosity. I think of it in two ways: how to be leaders who are curious, and having curiosity be our first move, regardless of where we stand in the hierarchy.

I offered three Simple Rules — some “Lynnisms” —  things I say to myself to keep me curious when it might not be my first inclination:

  1. “If you change your point of view, you will see something new.”  My dad gets credit for this one. It was his favorite line in the heat of an Easter egg hunt, but he’d use it elsewhere, a gentle reminder to bust loose from the constraints of our usual perspective. Sometimes I’ll do this literally: I’ll get up from my desk, walk across the room, and consider a matter from that different angle. Works every time.
  2. “Assume you don’t know what you don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld took a lot of grief for his comments about known knowns and unknown unknowns but I think he was on to something. I remind myself I don’t know what I don’t know — and someone else likely does. We can’t know what we don’t know … unless we ask.
  3. “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” Stephen Covey coined this long before I made it my own. It is my note-to-self to be curious in the face of discord. It’s awfully hard to be quite so self-righteous if we’ve taken time to consider the others’ perspective.

Catch the full interview here. [30 minutes]

Painted in Waterlogue